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Thread: die on the vine

  1. #11
    Tullia's Avatar
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    Default Re: die on the vine

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I think the idiom, except the failure of fruition, connotes the potential of it. That's what, I suppose, can make people think of beginnings. It's sometimes hard to tell one from the other. Let's take the most obvious example (I'll let myself return to it): grapes on the vine wither. Withering of plants is not the beginning of their vegetation. But, if we think of it in the terms of making wine, we'll see it as the very beginning of the process - which never came to an end. Nevertheless, I still believe the main connotation of "withering on the vine" here is the lack of interest which caused the grapes to wither. It's still the ripe grapes that we harvest, not unripe.

    Another example. My country is now preparing to Euro 2012 and we have to create a lot of infrastructure. The works are at an advanced stage - but if the government stops giving money and building companies find other priorities, the project will die in the vine!
    I don't see a perfect correlation between your example and lack of interest. If I heard that a government had stopped funding something, I wouldn't automatically assume they had lost interest in it. It might still be something they wanted to do, but didn't have the money to - especially in these hard times!

    Fruit too can wither for reasons other than lack of interest; lack of rain, lack of manpower to collect it in, disease...

    I think if you said something had been left to die on the vine, then that would imply a lack of interest/an active choice not to pursue the project, but just saying that something died on the vine doesn't make the issue of why it died clear in the same way.

  2. #12
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: die on the vine

    Eh, my post is not only ungrammatical (:-/) but also illogical...

    A better word in place of "interest" would be "care". They're interchangable in Polish in such contexts... Maybe I'll just try to say clearly how I understand the idiom.

    I think "to die on the vine" means to be wasted due to lack of care. I think the word "wasted" in my definition implies the potential of what dies on the vine. I also think things and processes can die on the vine even at the final stages of their production/development/course etc.

    Would you agree?

    PS: A word of explanation. Why do I think the lack of care is important here? It isn't explicit but that's what the history tells me. Leaving grapes to wither on the vine was (and maybe still is) considered a serious sin and people said things like this to accuse other people.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 19-Oct-2010 at 15:48.

  3. #13
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: die on the vine

    The following excerpts from well-known dictionary are earmarked for too curious people who are dying with curiosity:

    withers on the vine - definition of withers on the vine by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    wither on the vine and die on the vine

    die on the vine = to fail or collapse in the planning stages or
    to fail especially at an early stage through lack of support or enthusiasm

    for all normal people “at an early stage” = “in the planning stages”
    project in the planning stage = project on the initial stage of development


    whither on the vine = to be ignored or neglected and thereby be wasted or
    if something withers on the vine, it is destroyed very gradually, usually because no one does anything to help or support it

  4. #14
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: die on the vine

    Three definitions from dictionaries:
    To fail, as from lack of support, especially at an early stage. (Cambridge Idioms Dict.)
    to be ignored or neglected and thereby be wasted. (McGraw-Hill Dict. of American Idioms)
    To fail, as from lack of support, especially at an early stage (American Heritage)
    McGraw gives an interesting example:
    I hope I get a part in the play. I don't want to just die on the vine. Fred thinks he is withering on the vine because no one has chosen him.
    PS: Sorry vil, I posted it before I saw you did that with yours.

    PPS: Vil, you're being rude to me again.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 20-Oct-2010 at 00:25.

  5. #15
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: die on the vine

    Quote Originally Posted by riquecohen View Post
    The governor of New Jersey has just killed a planned project for a train tunnel under the Hudson River. The project was never begun. Would you not say that it died on the vine?
    Tullia might, but I wouldn't - which is not to say that some people might use it that way. For me, if it's on the vine it grew but was not harvested. It might be starved of funds or attention, but at some previous stage it must have been thriving - like, say, tomatoes left on the vine to wither and become useless. (But I wouldn't use 'die on the vine', for the same reason. Things wither there, but when they die, it's time for another metaphor. )

    It's interesting, BC, that 'fruition' isn't derived from 'fruit' - they are both derived from the Latin verb fruor -ui -uctus sum meaning 'enjoy'. The fruit is that which is enjoyed, and when something 'comes to fruition' it arrives at a state when it can be enjoyed (in a way that doesn't have to involve fruit).

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 19-Oct-2010 at 17:14. Reason: Added first parenthesis

  6. #16
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: die on the vine

    I agree with Bob that killing the project directly is different. Withering/Dying on the vine is not an instant death me- a decline, a failure to develop fully, not shutting it down like that.


    PS I am not sure if some things said here are meant as quips or digs, so could we remember to keep things friendly. Thanks

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